Campaign Home > Old and new pandemics

Old and new pandemics

Developing tools to reverse killer diseases

Imagine a world where

  • Boarding an international flight no longer sparks the risk of a deadly pandemic
  • The underlying genetic and biological causes of conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease are better understood and addressed
  • Diseases that now kill millions – such as AIDS, TB, and malaria – are prevented through affordable vaccines and common sense changes in behavior

Uncovering root causes

Today, faculty, students, researchers, and alumni of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health are on the front lines of efforts to halt the next global pandemic. They are working together to ensure that we never again suffer an outbreak on the scale of the 1918 influenza, which killed 50 million people worldwide, afflicted over 25 percent of the U.S. population, and caused average life expectancy in this country to plunge by 12 years. They are mining big data to find new clues that may one day stop TB in its tracks. And they are discovering the genetic keys to understanding diabetes and other chronic killers.

From obesity to AIDS, from metabolic syndrome to malaria, the Harvard Chan School is challenging accepted wisdom and pushing forward the frontiers of knowledge for the common good. We are building on lifesaving work that slowed and ultimately reversed the spread of HIV/AIDS. We are harnessing cell phone technologies to better understand, and move to halt, the spread of malaria. We are revealing molecular codes that influence how and when we get sick. And perhaps most importantly, we are at the forefront of efforts to identify and stop diseases that have yet to arise, long before they take hold.